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Opponent Scouting Report: Josh Jacobs is the real deal

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has impressed this season

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts have struggled with their run defense this season through three games. They have allowed 76 yards per game a 5.03 yards per carry to lead running backs on the season. Next up against the Raiders, the Colts have to slow down rookie first round pick Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has looked solid this season as he has rushed 45 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns in three games.

In today’s scouting report, we will look at the play of Jacobs and what the Colts need to do to slow him down this Sunday on defense.

Film Room

His acceleration combined with his power is what made him a first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He is just so fast and so difficult to bring down one on one in space. Here he quickly plants his foot and gets up field on the stretch play. He finds the backside hole and breaks a couple of tackles on his way for a big gain. It is very impressive how he can take a small crease and get up field in a hurry.

He is very nimble on his feet and always looking for a lane. The initial running lane gets clogged up the middle so Jacobs is forced to improvise. He jump cuts to the outside before planting his foot in the ground and getting up field. He gets a positive gain before forcing the entire defense to gang up in order to bring him down. Impressive power on this play after showcasing a nice jump cut and vision to get to the outside.

Outside defenders have to keep contain on Jacobs. He again hits the outside lane with a quick jump cut and fights his way up field for positive yards. The Colts are going to have to be a bit more conservative with their edge rushers on Sunday. If he sees an edge rusher crashing down the line too aggressively, he will make them pay and get back to the outside. These jump cuts are very impressive and he always finishes runs by putting his head down and falling forward.

Against a running back like Jacobs, you cannot allow a backside lane because he will find it. Here he initially hits the hole before quickly planting his foot and cutting back. He keeps his head on a swivel and finds the backside lane for the good gain. There can’t be any creases or cracks in run defense up front against him. The Colts will have to contain their gaps and clog holes to contain Jacobs this Sunday. He is just too talented to allow these backside runs.

The Colts have struggled to bring down runners on first contact this season especially in week one against the Chargers. That simply cannot happen against a player like Jacobs. He is too powerful for arm tackles and he will make a defense pay for not wrapping up. Here he finds a hole and gets up field quickly. He runs through two arm tackles near the line before getting to the third level. He stiff arms Tyrann Mathieu and breaks off this run for a monster gain. The Colts have to wrap up on Sunday or Jacobs will make them pay.

How to slow him down

There is no direct solution to stopping a running back like Josh Jacobs. Even if you take away his running lanes, he is powerful enough to gain positive yards. The key is limiting those big plays. The Colts have to win at the point of attack this weekend and make secure tackles in the backfield. The Chiefs gave up a lot of big plays to Jacobs in their game against the Raiders this weekend but this is a good example of how to contain. Win at the point of attack, stay in your assignment, and make the sound tackle in the backfield.

The Colts do have experience containing a powerful runner in Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry. While the Colts have shut him down in a match up in the last year, they have done a great job of containing him and holding him under 100 yards. The key again is not losing contain, winning at the point of attack, and gang tackling in the backfield. The Colts have struggled this year in stopping lead running backs but they have to make a commitment to turning that around this weekend. They cannot allow Jacobs to run free or it could be a long game on defense.